Sunday, 18 July 2010

Just Outside of Paris: Parc de Sceaux

Half a day trips can easily be organized by anyone who wants to see the not so usual touristy destinations in France, if one is willing to figure out how to travel by train. One such place that is not too far from Paris is Parc de Sceaux, noted for it's garden design, post-Versailles era. Join my tour group as we visit this place.



From Chatelet Station, we took the RER B, direction Robinson, and exited on Bourg-la-Reine.



From the train station, it was about a 15 minute walk as we followed the signs to the chateau and the parc.



Once owned by Jean Baptist Colbert, Andre Le Notre designed the classical gardens for Colbert, who was then Minister of France, in 1670. Le Notre was a master designer/landscaper of his time.



Here is the site plan. The focus was on the right hand corner of the plan.



My friends and I entered through a side entrance and were immediately walking along the flower beds still abloom with summer flower varieties.



A we hurried along to get to the main garden, we were just loving all the flower configurations.



As we moved to the middle of the garden, in front of the chateau, we noticed the T-shaped trees lining the street ahead with a view of the city of Sceaux, now with tall buildings, unevenly coming up to the horizon, facing the chateau.



The chateau was destroyed during the revolution, and this new one was constructed in 1856 in the Louis XIII style. It serves as the museum of the Ile de France. Some of the garden grounds were destroyed, too, and had to be restored or redesigned.



This is the l'Orangerie which was used as a nursery for storing plants during the winter months. Today, it is used as a venue for concerts.



We noticed some "browning" among a group of trees, a case of "chestnut blight," a disease that is killing the old chestnut trees. When a replacement tree is planted, it suffers the same condition soon after.



From behind the chateau, we could see how Le Notre made use of the space that earned him the reputation of...



"master of perspective and optics."



This is the view of the garden inside the Chateau, on the second floor.



Continuing our walk towards the cascade along crew-cut and flat-sided trees, we were refreshed by the sight of the jet fountain.



As we went down to the level of the top of the cascades, we found...



these masks which were designed by Auguste Rodin.



This is the view from the top when all water systems were working. Notice the fountains on each side of every cascade level?



The jet fountain reminded me of the one in Lake Geneva.



There are decorative elements like these elks in bronze, on a concrete pedestal, on this sort of rond point...



from which originated this patte d'oie ( a 30-degree angled path that starts off from a rond point) leading into the woods.



Some concrete sculptural pieces dotted the grounds. What do you make out of this one? To me it looked like the man killed the woman first and now had the sword stuck into his body. another guest said that this was what people did when the Romans came to their cities, rather than have their wives raped by the invaders...hmmm.



These migrant ducks have taken over the waters as their own.



Following the dirt/pebbled path...



we turned right and noticed that they planted poplar trees along the sides as they were fast growing, but the gardeners tending the grounds realized that they only lived for about 60 years and they were not sturdy to weather strong winds.



We continued towards the balustrades, which is framed in a landscape of chestnut-blighted trees...we turned to the right to go up some steps, and left for more uphill steps...



to get to this point.



Back at the pebbled path behind the chateau, we came to understand from our guide that the landscape components now...



are adapted to the 21st century style of gardening...



in terms of flowering plant choices and their combinations.



On our way out, we headed toward the petit chateau and walked around the petit jatdin...



and passed by this arch...



and found this mask made out of shells...some berry trees and flowering bushes.



Continuing our walk through a stretch of pebbled pathway, lined with trees and conical - sided evergreens...



we got to a vista point that opened up to the rest of the main garden.



We exited through another side gate and found ourselves in the quaint town of Sceaux...



and had a quick tour of the place...



and then ended our visit to Sceaux with a meal in a specialty restaurant.

It's time to rest those walking feet...'til next time.

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